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Meaning of OM MANI PADME HUM
would like to talk a little about the meaning of
the OM MANI PADME HUM mantra.
represents method and padme, wisdom. In other words,
these two words contain the whole path revealed
by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha; the entire graduated
path to enlightenment. These two words contain the
whole path to nirvana—liberation from suffering
and the true cause of suffering. All the lesser
vehicle paths are included in method and wisdom;
therefore, they are covered by mani and padme. The
entire Paramitayana path, the bodhicitta path to
enlightenment, is also encompassed by method and
wisdom; therefore, it, too, is completely contained
in mani and padme. Finally, the entire Vajrayana
path—the path of the inseparable vehicle, tantra,
or secret mantra—is also covered by these terms.
has four divisions, or levels. The first is kriya
tantra, which in turn is divided into that with
sign and that without sign. That with sign is the
path of method; that without is the path of wisdom;
the whole kriya tantra path is included in mani
and padme. It's the same for the other tantras.
Through the practice of the fourth class of tantra,
Highest Yoga Tantra (maha-anuttara yoga tantra)
we can attain enlightenment—omniscient mind; the
transcendent state that is complete in all realizations
and purified of every stain—in one brief lifetime
of this degenerate age. There are two stages in
Highest Yoga Tantra: generation [sometimes also
called creation, development or evolution] and accomplishment
[or completion]. These are included in mani and
padme, method and wisdom. The accomplishment stage
has four levels: seclusion of mind; illusory body;
clear light and unification. Illusory body, the
path of m! ethod, is contained in mani;! clear light,
the path of wisdom, is contained in padme. Also,
there are two types of clear light: the clear light
of meaning and clear light of example.
order to turn the mind into the path we must first
lay the foundation, the three principal aspects
of the path: renunciation, bodhicitta and the wisdom
of samsara is the thought that has strong aversion
to samsara through realizing that it is only in
the nature of suffering; that being under the control
of the disturbing negative minds and karma, our
aggregates of body and mind are suffering in nature.
Normally, we are not aware of this. We hallucinate
that that which is impermanent by nature is permanent;
that which is dirty by nature is clean; that which
is suffering by nature is pleasant; and that which
has no existence at all from its own side, which
is merely labeled, exists from its own side. This
is our normal, hallucinated view of reality. Renunciation
is realization of the fact that all conditioned
existence is suffering in nature.
are like moths, which see a burning flame as a beautiful
place in which to be, not realizing what will happen
when they touch it. We completely hallucinate. Even
if the flame is covered they still try as hard as
they can to get into it. Even though they feel it
to be hot, they still try to get in. They think
that incredible bliss lies within the white part.
So what happens when they actually get in there?
It's not at all what they expected. It's the complete
opposite. As long as we are in samsara, our life
is constantly confused like this.
have no idea that our life is completely suffering
in nature; we follow our hallucinating mind as if
it's one hundred percent right, as if our wrong
conceptions are perfect. We have complete trust
in our projections, our hallucinations. We believe
that our wrong conceptions are completely true.
It's like seeing a burning environment as a beautiful
park and trying to get into it, not realizing that
we'll get burnt. We see this suffering realm as
a beautiful park.
is the realization that our own samsara is only
in the nature of suffering; that living in samsara
is like being engulfed by flames and feeling unable
to bear remaining in it for a second longer without
achieving liberation. When we feel our own suffering
as unbearable and the thought seeking liberation
spontaneously and continuously arises, we have realized
renunciation of samsara.
we change the object and think of others instead
of ourselves, the feeling becomes compassion. Having
the strong thought of renunciation of our own samsara,
when we reflect on others' being caught in samsara
and suffering, we begin to feel incredible, unbearably
strong compassion; we feel it intolerable that others
are in samsara under the control of their disturbing
thoughts and karma. When we see others caught in
samsara it feels extremely unendurable, like a spear
in the heart, like a mother feels when her beloved
only child falls into a fire. It's as unbearable
that way, there arises incredibly strong compassion
wishing other sentient beings to be free from suffering.
We cannot relax without doing something to help
them. There is no way to think of ourselves, our
own happiness; no way for the thought of self-concern
to arise. We can't remain still, doing nothing to
free other sentient beings. We can't bear their
being in samsara even for an hour or a minute. Just
as, with the realization of renunciation, we couldn't
stand not achieving our own liberation, couldn't
wait even a minute, now our focus is on others.
When this wish arises, we have the realization of
great compassion—the wish that all sentient beings
might be free of all suffering and the resolve to
bring this about ourselves.
arises from this attitude. We ask ourselves, "What's
the solution now? What should I do? What's the best
method for me to free all sentient beings from suffering?"
The conclusion we come to is that the only way we
can guide sentient beings from suffering perfectly
is by achieving the omniscient mind.
the wish to develop an omniscient mind comes from
the root of compassion. From great compassion, the
altruistic mind of enlightenment, bodhicitta, is
generated. The compassion here is that which arises
spontaneously for all sentient beings without discriminating
between friends, enemies and strangers—those who
help, those who treat us badly and criticize us,
and those who neither help nor harm us. Its object
is all suffering sentient beings and compassion
wishes all beings to be free of all obscurations.
Great compassion wishes all those who are devoid
of the peerless happiness of enlightenment to achieve
the state of omniscient mind and takes personal
responsibility for seeing them do so.
spontaneously arising bodhicitta we feel like the
mother whose beloved only child has fallen into
a fire. We can't stand it. Day and night, all the
time, the altruistic mind of enlightenment arises
without effort. At that time, we have realized bodhicitta.
The person who has realized bodhicitta is called
"fortunate." Such a person is wise, skillful and
compassionate. Those who have the ultimate good
heart, bodhicitta, in their mind are truly competent.
worldly terms, those who can earn a lot of money,
who can kill their enemies, who have many apartments
everywhere, are considered clever, skillful and
wise. Those who can cheat others to enhance their
reputation or happiness are thought of as wise,
clever and self-supporting. These ideas are completely
wrong. Even if you can liberate yourself from samsara
you still haven't finished your work for self or
others. Thus, bodhisattvas are not necessarily skillful
or compassionate, even if they can liberate themselves
from samsara. Therefore, the wisdom of realizing
emptiness is practiced after the realization of
after your mind is well trained in the general path,
you take initiation from a qualified vajra guru,
one who can give Highest Yoga Tantra initiations.
Once your mind has been ripened by receiving the
four types of Highest Yoga Tantra initiation, you
train your mind by meditating on its two paths:
the gradual paths of generation and accomplishment.
When your mind reaches the level of the clear light
of example, you are free from the danger of death—there's
no uncontrolled death, no dying without choice.
I mentioned before, the clear light is signified
by padme, wisdom, and the illusory body by mani,
method. If you can reach this stage, you can attain
enlightenment before death, but if you don't, then
you can do so right after death, in the intermediate
stage, as did many high lamas and great yogis, such
as Milarepa, who became enlightened in one lifetime.
not clear; maybe a bit missed here.]
merit that takes three countless eons to accumulate
by following the Paramitayana path can be completely
accumulated in one brief lifetime by meditating
on the illusory body. The clear light is the remedy
to the dualistic view; disturbing thoughts and even
the subtle dualistic view can be completely ceased
by meditating on the clear light with the support
of the extensive merit that you accumulate by meditating
on the illusory body. In this way you achieve the
unification of the completely pure holy body and
holy mind of the buddha or the deity you have been
practicing and become a buddha.
the moon rises it doesn't need to exert effort for
its reflection to appear in bodies of water: "Now
I'm going to reflect in all the waters on Earth."
Wherever there's water, its reflection automatically
appears. Similarly, after you have become a buddha,
after you have achieved the deity you have been
practicing, you work effortlessly and spontaneously
for the benefit of all sentient beings. You work
continually with your holy body, speech and mind
to lead sentient beings equaling infinite space
to the peerless happiness of the omniscient mind.
is just a brief explanation of the meaning of the
mantra OM MANI PADME HUM, but I hope you
can see from it how mani and padme—method and wisdom—encompass
the entire graduated path to enlightenment.
if your mind is like a rock it's like unfertilized
earth; it's not well prepared. Even if you plant
seeds, they won't grow. If your mind is selfish,
solid, full of anger and dissatisfaction, like iron,
like a rocky mountain, hard, vicious, then even
though you want to attain liberation or complete
enlightenment, the path that mani and padme contain
will not develop in it. Earth needs to be watered
and to contain minerals and fertilizer—then it's
possible for things to grow in it. Similarly, your
present mind needs to change from its concrete,
vicious, ugly state. It needs to be transformed,
softened—it needs the blessings of the Guru Buddha.
MANI PADME HUM contains the name of Chenrezig,
the Great Compassionate One. Reciting this mantra
is like calling your mother. You call mother to
get her attention and then you ask her for what
you want: ice cream, chocolate, whatever! When you
recite OM MANI PADME HUM, you're calling
Chenrezig's holy name and the hum influences his
holy mind. What you are asking him for is to bless
your mind—not only your own but also the minds of
other sentient beings—to plant the root of the path
to enlightenment, the method and wisdom contained
in mani and padme.
what remains to be explained is the om. Practicing
and completing the path of method and wisdom in
your mind is signified by mani and padme—purification
of all the obscurations, negative karma and impure
conception, or view, of body, speech and mind. When
your body, speech and mind are thus purified they
become Guru Chenrezig's vajra holy body, speech
[Sanskrit or Tibetan] letter om has three parts.
The body of the letter is ah—the mother syllable.
Above it is a wavy line called (in Tibetan) a naro,
the vowel that converts an "ah" sound into an "o."
Above that is a small zero, which adds the "m" sound.
These three components add up to "om" and signify
the three kayas, or vajra body, speech and mind.
Your impure conceptions of body, speech and mind
transform into the completely pure vajra holy body,
speech and mind of Chenrezig, the Great Compassionate
One. Therefore, om means enlightenment.
then, is the meaning of OM MANI PADME HUM:
the beginning, or cause, of the path, the path itself,
and the result. It's like a tree: root, trunk and
MANI PADME HUM also encompasses all existence—dependent
arising and emptiness: mani and padme. All existence
is contained in the two truths; all this is contained
in mani and padme: absolute truth in padme, and
conventional truth, the truth of the all-obscuring
mind, in mani.
84,000 teachings of the Buddha—the Prajnaparamita
teachings, all the hundreds of volumes of Tengyur
and Kangyur—are included in OM MANI PADME HUM
as well. It contains all the five great treatises
on the sutras that the monks study in the monasteries,
which explain the logic that proves that the Buddha
is a valid, or true, holy being—non-deceptive, not
misguiding and logical. Buddha's teaching is true
because when sentient beings practice it, it works;
it contains the experience, so the result comes.
When you practice, even the simplest of everyday
life problems get solved. So this is just a small
proof that you can be liberated from the true cause
of suffering; that you can become enlightened. This
proves that the teachings are valid and true and
will not betray you.
monks in the great monasteries study the teachings
on logic for many years. They usually study and
debate the Madhyamaka teachings, which explain the
two truths, for three years. Then they study the
wisdom-gone-beyond, the Prajnaparamita teachings,
for five years or so. They also study the Vinaya
teachings on moral conduct—how to subdue the body,
speech, and mind—for a year or more. Then they study
the Abhidharmakosha for many years. They study these
sutra teachings and the five great treatises for
thirty or forty years, memorizing, debating and
taking examinations. Then they study the tantric
teachings for many years and practice all those
extensive, complete paths. OM MANI PADME HUM
contains an entire lifetime of study.
there's a difference when you recite the mantra
of this particular buddha, the embodiment of the
compassion of all buddhas—the great compassion that
is unable to bear sentient beings' suffering and
guides them from it. This compassion is a hundred
thousand times greater than the compassion we have
for ourselves. There is no comparison. And this
infinite compassion of all the buddhas manifests
in this particular aspect we call Chenrezig, the
Buddha Seeing With Compassionate Eyes.
of his compassion, the Buddha himself achieved the
great nirvana, the sphere of great peace, without
choice, bound by compassion. We're the opposite:
without choice, bound by selfish thoughts, we give
harm to other sentient beings and even ourselves.
Bound by compassion, buddhas manifest in the sambhogakaya
aspect for higher bodhisattvas and in the nirmanakaya
aspect for ordinary bodhisattvas. For ordinary beings,
they manifest in the form of a monk, like His Holiness
the Dalai Lama, or as a king; in various forms,
whatever is necessary. If there's a manifestation
that will subdue sentient beings, that's how they'll
manifest—as a judge, a general or even as a butcher
or a crazy person; as a blind person or a beggar
to cause others to accumulate merit by practicing
charity and thus create the cause of happiness.
If some sentient being needs to be guided in that
way, they'll manifest as a wealthy person; if another
needs to be guided in such a special aspect, if
it! '! s t he only way to subdue that person's mind,
because of his strong attachment, they'll manifest
as a prostitute.
his teachings, Shakyamuni Buddha declared, "I will
manifest as all these things." He said, "I have
no attachment but I manifest as having attachment;
I'm not blind but I manifest as being blind; I'm
not crippled, but I manifest as crippled; I'm not
crazy, but I manifest as crazy; I have not the slightest
anger but I manifest as having anger. If I manifest
in such ways in the future, not all beings will
to guide us he manifested as the Thousand-armed,
Thousand-eyed One and the Compassionate Buddha's
mantra is somehow different from other mantras.
Other mantras are very powerful but this one has
some particular personality, or effect—the mind
becomes naturally more calm and compassionate while
it's being recited; the thought of benefiting others
naturally arises and the practitioner is less self-centered.
ordinary people who recite OM MANI PADME HUM
have a very good heart even if they don't know the
teachings or meditate on the graduated path to enlightenment.
This happens just through having faith in the Compassionate
Buddha, the Great Compassionate One and reciting
his mantra. You need to have a good heart even for
the happiness of this life, for peace of mind in
everyday life. A good heart is of the utmost need;
it's the only way. It is very helpful to recite
this mantra. It is very effective for the mind.
you recite OM MANI PADME HUM you should feel
not so much Chenrezig's form but his essence, or
nature. If it's uncomfortable to visualize him above
the crown of your head, visualize him in front of
you. Visualize great compassion for all sentient
beings manifesting in the thousand-armed-thousand-eyed
aspect. The nature of his holy body is light. He
is smiling and has compassionate, loving eyes that
look directly at you—a suffering, confused sentient
being—and all other sentient beings as well. If
you can manage, visualize a syllable HRIH on a moon
disc on an eight-petaled lotus in his heart. From
here, nectar beams emanate and enter you, purifying
all your obscurations, particularly your selfish
attitude, which is the main obstacle to your generating
in this way, recite OM MANI PADME HUM as
many times as you can.
Zopa Rinpoche gave this teaching at the Sixteenth
Kopan Meditation Course, Kathmandu, Nepal, 1983.
Edited by Nicholas Ribush. The entire course transcript
may be found in the Lama
Yeshe Wisdom Archive members' area. For
more teachings on Avalokiteshvara and OM MANI PADME
HUM, see Lama Zopa's Teachings
from the Mani Retreat.
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